Shelley: Relax students, therapy dog George is here

Available for bookings: Spoodle George helps students de-stress.
Available for bookings: Spoodle George helps students de-stress.

THERAPY dog George has been helping relieve students of stress around exam time.

The five-year-old spoodle from Shelley – who has been trained to be calm in all situations – visits campuses, charity events and high schools for cuddles and companionship.

“It’s astonishing to see his affect on people: he looks like a fluffy teddy bear and as soon as students see him they start laughing, some even start crying because they are a bit overwhelmed,” handler and Curtin University Associate Professor Shirley Bode said.

“Before exams, students can be anxious and stressed and when there is a therapy animal around it takes them out of that mindset.

“Research shows that when you pat animals your anxiety levels are lowered and you feel more relaxed.”

George is a certified trained therapy dog, beginning his role with non-profit organisation Animal Companions and visiting a dementia facility.

“We’d go there on weekends and George would interact and get people to engage and that would encourage people to talk and reminisce,” Professor Bode said.

“Then about two-and-a-half years ago at Curtin, I was walking past the exam venues and I could just feel the tension and the stress and I thought I’d really like to bring my dog here and introduce him as a way of helping students de-stress for their exams.

“You can see the whole atmosphere change when George arrives.”

Now a regular at the university around exam time, George is titled an official Curtin wellness activity.

“Everyone wants to cuddle and take ‘selfies’ with him and he’s tagged on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat,” Professor Bode said.

“I set up a Facebook page for him, facebook.com/GeorgeTheTherapyDog: he’s got almost 2000 friends.”

George can be booked for schools across Perth.